Adapting to the New Normal

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which caused a major impact on livelihoods and communities across the world This development has impacted the global economy in a major way with some analysts estimating that the pandemic could trim economic growth by as much as 2.0% per month if current conditions persist, and global trade could also fall by 13% to 32% (WTO).

Most business leaders believe that the COVID-19 pandemic, will undoubtedly have an impact on business. The pandemic will also bring about far reaching and potentially permanent changes to work practices.

Given this developing challenge, organizations are faced with the new normal, which includes the need to work remotely, under-utilised office space and general negative impact on business operations. This new business reality calls for agile and adaptive organisations.

There is a flurry of activity around the world as organizations restructure their business operations to enable remote working as a reality. The concept of working remotely (or from home) is not a new phenomenon. This new reality has been rising slowly globally, enabled mainly by innovations in technology and communication infrastructure. Post the crisis, working from home can no longer be deemed an option but a necessity and we must accept that it is here to stay.

This new normal will have impact on the world of work and management of our employees. The numerous Zoom or MS Teams meetings were either liked or loathed due to their frequency and sometimes impacted by poor connectivity. Moving forward we need to adapt by integrating remote working into our colleague agenda and service providers, empowering us with better connectivity.

Managing employee productivity and performance will be challenging in this new world where some employees are working remotely. Besides driving productivity and managing performance, trust and accountability will be the new values that organisations will have to incorporate into their human capital management practices.

Organisations must not stop the continuous performance management process but rather refine it and use the results as input into powerful and empathetic performance discussions that boost morale during business recovery.

Leaders and managers have a challenging task of balancing the need to be more economical and reinforcing management of talent, at the same time. The new business reality is that organisations are struggling financially and therefore not equipped to effect increments, promotions or bonuses as a reward for good performance.

Therefore, the general guidance here is that decisions related to increments, promotions and bonuses may be deferred while the performance feedback continues unabated.

June 8, 2020